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The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality (Nick Bryant/2006)


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I was curious, I saw this at a local library and found it very interesting (typically for me, anytime there is a critique of JFK, I am always interested of course),but it seems highly sourced and would probably considered, by some, as controversial. Has anyone here read/reviewed it? Link here:

https://www.amazon.com/Bystander-Kennedy-Struggle-Black-Equality/dp/B000W933K8

The book seems to be a critique and I was surprised that DiEugenio (then I realized Jimbo doesn't have all the free time in the world lol) hadn't reviewed it since it deals with specific topics Jim covers at great length (JFK and Civil Rights).

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Well you are right, I actually do not have all the time in the world to review every single book there is.

This whole idea about why Kennedy had to wait until 1963 to compose his civil rights bill--which is what that book is about-- has been dealt with at length by other writers.  And also by Bobby Kennedy himself in that book RFK in his own Words. The reason was simple.  It was not until after Bull Connor and Birmingham that the White House finally knew that the bill could not be successfully filibustered in the senate.

Harris Wofford, Kennedy's civil rights advisor, predicted this in his initiating memorandum which he wrote before the inauguration. He said that  the votes would not be there for an omnibus bill in 1961 or 1962.  So Wofford said they should do what they could to support Brown vs Board, which Eisenhower and Nixon had not done, and then use executive actions--as sending in  marshals to protect King after the Freedom Riders concluded, or students at Ole Miss and Alabama.  That would help build momentum and create a wave.  Which it did.

JFK himself understood this thoroughly. During the Bull Connor attacks which were being televised on TV and with pics in the press, Kennedy knew DIck Gregory was in Birmingham.  When Dick got home that night on a red eye, his wife told him that the president had called and he wanted him to call him back.  DIck said, "But its midnight."  His wife said, "He said it didn't matter what time it was."  So Gregory called the White House and Kennedy picked up the phone.  He told him he needed to know everything that happened.  So Gregory went on for about ten minutes.  When he was done, Kennedy replied, "Oh man, we got those bast---s now !"  Meaning the bill would pass.

They said good bye and Gregory started weeping.    After a hundred years of neglect and apathy, he  could not believe that a president could be that jubilant about changing things.

BTW, this is not the Cult of Kennedy.  These are facts related to me through books and a witness.

 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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17 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

Well you are right, I actually do not have all the time in the world to review every single book there is.

This whole idea about why Kennedy had to wait until 1963 to compose his civil rights bill--which is what that book is about-- has been dealt with at length by other writers.  And also by Bobby Kennedy himself in that book RFK in his own Words. The reason was simple.  It was not until after Bull Connor and Birmingham that the White House finally knew that the bill could not be successfully filibustered in the senate.

Harris Wofford, Kennedy's civil rights advisor, predicted this in his initiating memorandum which he wrote before the inauguration. He said that  the votes would not be there for an omnibus bill in 1961 or 1962.  So Wofford said they should do what they could to support Brown vs Board, which Eisenhower and Nixon had not done, and then use executive actions--as sending in  marshals to protect King after the Freedom Riders concluded, or students at Ole Miss and Alabama.  That would help build momentum and create a wave.  Which it did.

JFK himself understood this thoroughly. During the Bull Connor attacks which were being televised on TV and with pics in the press, Kennedy knew DIck Gregory was in Birmingham.  When Dick got home that night on a red eye, his wife told him that the president had called and he wanted him to call him back.  DIck said, "But its midnight."  His wife said, "He said it didn't matter what time it was."  So Gregory called the White House and Kennedy picked up the phone.  He told him he needed to know everything that happened.  So Gregory went on for about ten minutes.  When he was done, Kennedy replied, "Oh man, we got those bast---s now !"  Meaning the bill would pass.

They said good bye and Gregory started weeping.    After a hundred years of neglect and apathy, he  could not believe that a president could be that jubilant about changing things.

BTW, this is not the Cult of Kennedy.  These are facts related to me through books and a witness.

 

Thanks a ton for your reasoned response as usual Jim. I absolutely love the Dick Gregory story, especially how you speak of it on BlackOp Radio. I hate myself for it but I took a few notes (and cannot find them) while skimming through some pages of the book when I didn't have a moment to read it in fully (at the time) and saw some points I disagreed with Bryant and given what I do know, thanks to you and a few other researchers.

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